Keeping yourself and your passengers safe means being prepared and using good judgement when you're out on the water.
What is judgment?
Judgment is about making good decisions about safety-related factors on the water which interact with each other – for example, your speed, other vessel traffic, your vessel's capabilities and weather conditions.
We're always exercising our judgement – sometimes automatically when things feel familiar and sometimes more consciously when we perceive more risk.
Good skippers can recognise common on-water risks and apply good judgment to manage them safely.
As the skipper, you're responsible
Boater judgment usually gets better with experience, but even the most experienced skippers can face unexpected challenges out on the water.
As the skipper, it's your responsibility to keep everyone safe - so here's a few things to factor into your decision making every time you head out on the water:
A few days before your trip
- Make sure your vessel is suitable for the conditions.
- Regularly check the weather before and during your trip.
- Ensure you have enough safety equipment on board for you and your passengers, and it is in good working order, including lifejackets.
- On the day of your trip
Know your limits and avoid taking risks. If in doubt, don’t go out.
- Log on/off with Marine Rescue NSW, or tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll return
- Regularly check the weather during your trip – conditions can change quickly.
While on the water
- Always keep a proper lookout. If keeping a good lookout becomes difficult or stressful it probably means you are going too fast for the conditions. If so, slow down.
- If you are unsure how to manage any on-water risks, consider slowing down, changing your location, changing your vessel or rescheduling your trip for another day.
More information on boating rules can be found in the Boating Handbook.